Tag Archives: community

The Beginning in the End

I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight that will take me away from Santorini and bring me to Rome, and ever since I woke up early this morning, I’ve been bursting with emotion. The gratitude and happiness I feel are indescribable. To have had all the participants of my first solo yoga retreat be left with feelings of joy and wonder and love and disbelief at the beauty and surrealism of this island and its landscape has taken me by surprise. To have had them connect to each other the way they have has taken me by suprise. To have had them connect to me the way they have has taken me by surprise. To have been told by many of them how this experience has changed their lives and how it will stay with them forever has taken me by surprise. Most of all, to be leaving with such a bursting heart takes me by surprise.

I am once again leaving my spiritual epicenter. This happened to me 3 years ago after I left this magical island the first time, but this time is different. The people who took a leap of faith by trusting me enough to invest in themselves through me and my efforts to organize and execute this retreat have become family. We became a community over the last 10 days, and what we experienced together is ours. It forever will be, and hearing from many of them that they are waiting for the next retreat to be planned gives me added fuel to make the next one equally, if not more, spectacular as this one has been. This retreat would not have been the same without every single person who remains part of our community. The dynamic between us all remains that which exists among those who have gone through something that alters the way we see our lives and the lives of others, not to mention the world we live in and our place in it.

From the depths of my soul, I thank each and every one of you who contributed to our community, every one of you that not only showed up to classes, but who shared your lives with myself and each other. As overcome as I feel in this second, and as I sit here waiting to explore other places on my onward travels, I know that this retreat is the beginning of something massive for each and every one of us. That despite our leaving to go back to our respective homes, we have started something together that has taken on a life of its own and that will grow and evolve and transform into unpredictable and indescribable forms of beauty and truth. Thank you for listening to me and allowing me to share what I believe is relevant. You teach me more than you know, and you encourage me to continue on this path that I find myself, living a life greater than I ever could have imagined for my Self.

Love to you all 🙂

Bram
September 16, 2011
Santorini Airport

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Non Nobis Solum

We’re three weeks away from the 5th Annual Montréal Yoga Mala, one that is slated to be the most successful in terms of attendance, and, potentially, money raised (this year all funds are donated to Santropol Roulant). Dawn Mauricio originally started the initiative five years ago, and I joined her as an organizer last year. The growth in the response from the yoga community, even in the last two years, has been huge. The 2010 Mala attracted 46 yogis and yoginis, who joined us in Parc Jeanne Mance along with the nine different yoga teachers we had enlisted from nine different yoga studios around Montréal for a celebratory 108 sun salutations. Each teacher taught 12 salutations in their own style, and by the end of the event, after all the prize-drawing, post-yoga eating, and mingling, we had raised over $7500 for that year’s charity, Le Garde Manger Pour Tous. In terms of pre-registration, this year has almost double the amount of people, with more expected to join us at the event!

Becoming involved with the Mala allowed me to accomplish two main goals: I was  able to affect change and delve into a little philanthropy, but it also gave me the opportunity to bring the Montréal yoga community together as one united movement. Having been a yoga student far longer than a teacher, I have definitely felt a disconnect from one studio to another, and even amongst teachers. Whereas cities like Toronto often have town hall-like meetings for their yoga circles, where businesses and teachers come together and share their experiences while offering insight and advice to each other, Montréal’s community has seemed more the sum total of many individuals doing their own thing, often struggling through the challenges of starting up as a teacher or studio owner. Becoming involved with Dawn’s project allowed me to actively join forces with a woman I respect and admire so that we could unify our community and allow that unity to be seen by the students that so often rotate from one studio to another in any given week, and who maintain that cycle of visiting different studios so that they can be exposed to different styles and energies. An amazing byproduct of our efforts was seeing the teachers we had assembled mingling, leaders in our community talking together, laughing, and basking in the glow that accompanies a coming-together of intentions that the Mala offers.

This year’s Mala once again brings us to a place of unity, where the excitement that builds as we get closer to the day of the event becomes palpable, enough so that we’re seeing double the amount of people registered compared to last year. Ironically, this year’s Mala is slated to be the last one, mainly due to the demands that the organization and execution of the event places on Dawn and myself. Our teaching aside, we’re both incredibly busy and the preparation and orchestration of everything that needs to be done to make the Mala a success is, in itself, another full-time job for 6 months out of the year. And so we feel that it’s time to let go of it, making this year’s Montreal Yoga Mala the last one of its kind with us at the helm. Having said that, we are actively looking for someone, or a group of people, who are interested in taking the reins from us…who have the time and energy to devote to it. The benefits of being able to bring people together to give up our time and funds to people who could benefit from them are immeasurable, it’s just question of being able to commit to something and then honor that commitment.

If you feel like this is something that interests you, something that you could really be able to manage and execute, then please let me know at bram.levinson@gmail.com or feel free to contact Dawn at dawnmrcio@gmail.com.  Despite the decision that Dawn and I have made, we would be ecstatic to see the tradition carry on with new energy infusing it from new organizers driven by passion and a desire to give back. It has been a highlight in my life and my career to accompany Dawn throughout the process that the Mala offers, one that should be lived by us all…

Montréal’s Yoga Mala takes place on Sunday, May 29th in Parc Jeanne Mance on the corner of Duluth and Esplanade from 10am-1pm. Rain or shine. For all information concerning the event, please visit the Montréal Yoga Mala website and/or Facebook page.